Wednesday, 18 November 2009

‘Do you come here often?’

I’ve always suffered slightly when it comes to flirting. Like the time I fell off a chair while trying to look sexy. Or when I smiled at a guy with a mouth full of cake. And then there was the ‘skirt tucked into the knickers’ incident. In fact, most of my flirting history is like an A-Z of ‘how not to win over the guy’.

And when a friend told me recently to give my latest ‘maybe’ a wink I couldn’t think of anything more disastrous. Without even attempting to do it I knew I’d probably just look like a girl with an eye defect rather than ‘possible date material’. I’m just not cool enough to pull it off.

In fact when I like someone I turn into an embarrassed teenager – I muddle up my words, go bright red if they happen to even turn their head in my direction and if I don’t trip, fall down a pot hole or accidentally head butt them (I have actually done this many times!) – I’d be very surprised. So when I was offered to attend a flirting seminar recently I didn’t need asking twice.

And apparently a bit of flirting every day helps us work, rest and play. Okay I made that bit up – but according to Jean (who runs the flirtology sessions) flirting shouldn’t just be confined to the nights when we’re guzzling down the vino. Why wait to flirt when your next date could be at your local bus stop, buying his ready meal for one in your local supermarket or perusing Balka’s latest artwork at the Tate?

But for a tongue tied no hoper like me, where do you even start? ‘Do you come here often?’ is too tacky, or just downright weird at a bus stop, ‘Get your coat you’ve pulled,’ isn’t really the start of a great romance and ‘Hi, I’m a freelance journalist,’ is probably a bit too much information when he’s just trying to buy his weekly shop.

“Be relevant,” Jean told us, “If you’re both in the wine aisle – ask if he can recommend a wine.” Wow who would have thought it was that easy? “Even if you start with a bad opener they’ll never remember,” she went on to say – phew that means even with my bad flirting experiences I may just have a few successes too.

But men, being men of course don't quite ‘get it’, even if were throwing all the right signals their way. For us an arm brush or even a ‘hi’ in our direction means they like us, for them it’s simply just a ‘hi’ and an arm brush. So if guys aren’t that great at detecting our flirting signals does that mean we should just pack our bags and go home empty handed? Nope, sometimes you just have to spell it out to them. As one man I spoke to recently said, “We’re not mind readers – if you want something just tell us.”

So what if we want a little bit more than just dating? When I started seeing Boss man recently nothing but dating was really on my mind. I was in a state of serial dating where three in one week wasn’t unusual. But after a while they all seem to merge into one another. Boss man stood out. Our first date was probably one of the best first dates I’ve been on and there was just something between us.

And as the dates kept on coming and other guys started dropping off my radar the more I wondered where it was going. I wasn’t demanding a five year plan which involved marriage, a mortgage and two kids from him, just a reassurance that he liked me. I was used to men making an effort with me. One guy I dated even googled ‘places to go on dates’ for me.

So when I said ‘I’m not dating anyone else,’ I thought it was the hint that would make him realise that I quite liked him – but either he was ignoring the ‘where is this going’ conversation or he was just being a typical man. So of course I had to bite the bullet and have ‘the chat’ with him – without, I hope, sounding too girly and pathetic.

It didn’t end like a fairytale should, but at least I knew where I stood – and isn’t that better than a ‘maybe’ or ‘I think he likes me, but I’m not sure.’ Life’s too short to be wondering if he’s on the same lines as you.

So Boss man didn’t have longevity, but maybe the ‘one’ is wandering down my favourite aisle in Sainsbury’s (the cake aisle if you were curious) or waiting for the 7.48 to St Pancras. I just need to be brave enough to not fluff my opening line, keep the conversation about wine/art/trains going and hope it doesn’t go horribly wrong so I have to either change my supermarket, stop my regular visits to art galleries (okay I never go anyway) or find an alternative route into London – fancy a hitchhiker anyone?

Wish me luck.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The eX factor

I have a recurring problem – an ex. However hard I try to shake him off he just keeps on coming back. Up until the other day I didn’t think I was friends with any of my ex’s, not really out of choice, more out of awkwardness. I dumped the first one and he was so bitter he deleted me out of his life, the second one, well we’ll come back to him later and the third, he dumped me, so enough said.

When you break up with someone the old cliché comes out ‘I hope we can still be friends’. Maybe you really think it’s possible, because of course you can’t imagine life without them. But after the uncomfortable break up sex, a few awkward conversations later, and a new girlfriend thrown in for good measure - you wondered why you ever thought being friends with them was such a good idea.

So when an ex text me last week saying he wanted to ‘catch up’ I just rolled my eyes. It wasn’t the first time he had popped up in my inbox – ever since we split up over a year and a half ago he’s text pestered me. But I really have no desire to text him back let alone see him.

So why has he got it into his head that we’re friends? Or is he after more than this? Sex? Reconciliation? Don’t you dump someone for a reason? I’m sure my reason wasn’t so that I could catch up with him over coffee one day, have sex on an occasional basis or get back together with him after a year and a half.

But the problem is I’m just too nice to my ex’s. I text them back with an ‘oh I’m so busy’ instead of ‘leave me alone before I get a restraining order.’ And I go through the polite ‘hi, how are you’s?’ when I bump into them, when I’d rather just blank them and forget they ever existed.

Then there’s the ex’s that dumped you and come crawling back, after a) they realise they’ve made a big mistake, b) they couldn’t find anyone better or c) they’re drunk. A friend of mine has had all her ex’s admit that dumping her was a mistake. If only my life was that great. But when you’ve moved on and you have a new love interest on the go a drunken text message declaring ‘whyyyy di I dump u? I bl**dy uve u!’ doesn’t really mean a whole lot to you anymore.

And it’s always the same when you meet up with an ex – it’s as though you’re competing to see who has the best life: ‘I have this amazing job,’ ‘My new girlfriend is gorgeous,’ ‘I’ve started at the gym you know – I’ve lost three stone’ and on and on it goes until you’ve both made yourselves sound like movie stars with perfect A list lives! And of course you refrain from telling them about those bad dates you keep going on, or how you’re likely to lose your job in the New Year, because that would make you look like a loser in front of an ex, right?

I remember a one sided conversation with one ex where he rattled off how his life had changed for the better since our split - it’s a shame the moaning idiot couldn’t have got it right when I had been with him. And friends have told me similar stories about how ex’s have sorted their lives out since they’ve split with them – so is it just a bid to impress us or was us dumping them a catalyst to make them, finally, realise just how awful their lives had become?

Of course some ex’s can be friends – but they’re the brave ones. Maybe it works for old Bruce and Demi but just knowing I’ve seen an ex naked, bared my soul to him, argued with him about how to cook an egg/pasta/anything edible and endured a Sunday lunch with his false teethed grandma puts him way outside friend territory.

I think the best theory is that an ex is an ex for a reason – whether you’re thinking about taking them back or becoming ‘friends’ with them. Who wants a friend, who was once a boyfriend, breaking down on your wedding day and declaring his love for you right before you say ‘I do’? As for my ex I think I’m going to have to pluck up the courage and tell him, very bluntly, that he has no chance of being my friend, let alone anything more – either that or this blog may just happen to appear in his inbox any day now!


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